The Answers

Friday, May 19th, 2006, 12:27 pm

Tripjax asked bloggers to answer a few questions, and since I don’t wanna be left out I’ll give it my best shot.

1. What is the biggest mistake people make at a NL table?

I’m gonna answer from my own experience at low-limit NL games. People don’t know how much to bet. They either don’t bet enough to make chasing the most impossible draw a profitable play, or they toss in a 37BB preflop raise with their A-4 suited. You’re either winning the tiny blinds or you’re up against a monster. Where’s the logic?

2. What is the biggest mistake people make at a Limit table?

They play fancy. They play slow. They set traps in the hopes of snaring their prey into a big pot. When all along they should’ve been betting and raising and building the pot THAT way. And then allowing the noodles who play 8-4 offsuit to stumble into a freak two pair.

3. Why do you play poker?

For the intellectual challenge. For the drama. My previous jobs had very little of both, and poker gave me kick in the brain I didn’t get anywhere else. And I’m not adverse to winning a little bit of money.

4. If you weren’t playing poker, what would you be doing?

I actually haven’t played much lately, which is why there have been these 3,000-word essays about lunch on this blog. I’d probably be a bit thinner too.

5. What is your favorite poker book and why?

I can’t pick just one. The Biggest Game in Town, Big Deal, The Professor, the Banker, the Suicide King. I really liked Nolan Dalla’s biography of Stu Unger. Really liked Barry Greenstein’s book. I know none of these are strategy guides, but I’m hoping that as the poker boom continues we’ll see more and more of these narrative explorations of the game and the culture. Maybe I’ll write one myself.

6. Who is your favorite poker player and why?

Her name is Isabelle Mercier. Why is she my favorite? You have to ask why? Oh, you sad, sad people, how I pity your ignorance of that which is beautiful and wondrous in this world.

7. Which poker player do you dislike the most and why?

Hellmuth would be an easy answer, perhaps too easy. But he made a donation For Peyton and that raises him in my esteem. Can’t say I much like Sheikhan, in part because he allows other people to call him “Sheiky”, and in part because, for all the noise he makes, he isn’t very interesting. You see Hellmuth go into hysterics and maybe it’s awful to watch, but at least it’s fun watching him suffer so. Sheikhan…he’s boring.

8. Do your coworkers know about your blog?

Not exactly. A few at my old job did, and here they know that I do some freelance writing about poker, but no one here reads my blog. That I know of. I don’t advertise the fact.

9. What is the most you have won in a cash game or MTT (both live and online)?

I won the Grublog Classic, the first WPBT event, and I’ll be bragging about that forever since I’ll never get a sniff of such glory again. I won $256, a book by Bill “Bulldog” Sykes, and one of my most prized possesions, a set of poker chips. A World Series bracelet might mean more to me than those chips. Maybe.

10. What is the most you have lost in a cash game or in one day total (both live and online)?

I lost all of a hundred bucks in one day, when my bankroll was, oh, $175. That was the day I truly internalized what bankroll management was all about.

11. Who was your first poker blog read?

I started my blog, wrote a few posts about poker, and one day I wondered if anyone else out there was writing about poker. And that’s how I ran into Iggy. Here’s how long ago that was–he found my blog because I left comments on his site. And yes, when I signed up at Party Poker, I used Bonus Code Iggy.

12. What satisfies you more, your aces holding up for a big pot or a bluff working for a big pot?

The fact that I have to even think about this shows that I should bluff more. Or perhaps not, as bluffing at my limits is rarely the smart move. That said, money stolen is twice as sweet as money earned.

13. Why do you blog?

You’re talking to a guy who has 20 spiral notebooks filled with ramblings from high school, college and beyond. I went to college in pre-email days and I would crank out these 15-page handwritten letters to friends scattered across the country. I’ve written millions of words that will never see the light of day (if I have anything to say about it). I eat, I breathe, I write. If I couldn’t write I’d go nuts. It’s cheaper than therapy. And the fact that you good people actually take the time to read it is much appreciated.

14. Do you read blogs from an RSS reader like bloglines or do you visit each blog?

I read like 70 blogs, so without Bloglines my browser would be fried. RSS is a godsend for bloggers and readers alike. Though for some reason I always go to Iggy’s and Pauly’s sites to read it in the raw. Nostalgia, perhaps. I should visit more blogs to leave comments, I need to do that more.

15. Would you rather play poker for a living than do what you currently do for a living?

In my not-so-distant past I had jobs where I would’ve accepted the sweet embrace of death rather than drive in on Monday morning. But I like the place I work now, good company, great people. And the life of a poker pro is not for me. I lack the temprement. And the discipline. The talent, too.

16. Do you wear a tin foil hat on occasion?

I’m pretty good at not seeing conspiracies when my aces get cracked by J-4 offsuit. But since the Bush Administration seems to believe every American is potentially part of an al-Qaeda sleeper cell, I may buy some stock in Alcoa and Reynolds Wrap. Don’t wanna be accused of mindcrime!

17. If you had to pin it down to one specific trait, what does a great poker player have (or do) that separates them from an average player?

Great players have the courage of their convictions. If they think you’re bluffing, they’ll make the call. If they think you hit your gutshot draw, they’ll lay down top set. And the great ones make those difficult decisions better than the merely good. Aggressive players are everywhere. Discipline and experience can teach you to make big laydowns. But what I admire are the players who succeed in those horribly ambigous situations. They think it over, make a decision, and act upon it.

18. Is Drizz the coolest person on the planet for naming his baby Vegas?

I think Drizz would agree that he’s the fourth-coolest person in his HOUSEHOLD. Tho if they’d named her “Vegas Baby, Vegas”…that would’ve been pretty cool.

19. What is your primary poker goal and are you close to accomplishing it?

I’d like to write a really, really good novel where poker plays a big part. Not some banal “young hotshot faces down the grizzled pro at the final table!” piece of crap. Something people who play poker and those who don’t could appreciate and enjoy. How close am I to accomplishing it? Got a lot of ideas. Got a lot of stuff written. Got nothing near completion. Just a matter of doing the work.

20. What is your primary online site and why?

When I play I split time between PokerStars and Full Tilt. Did you know Isabelle Mercier is sponsored by PokerStars!!!

21. What site do you dislike and why?

Don’t like Pacific Poker. Don’t like the graphics (too brown, reminds me of my college apartment) and that annoying “HONNNNNKKKK!” when you’re 3 picoseconds late to act. And even though I know Yahoo Poker doesn’t really count, I really dislike Yahoo Poker. When I die I’ll know I’m in Hell if I fired up my heavenly laptop and find I can only access Yahoo Poker.

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3 Responses to “The Answers”

  1. TripJax Says:

    Good stuff Gene…thanks for sticking your feet in the water on this one.

    I really dug your answer to #17.

  2. Drizztdj Says:

    I forgot all about the honk and to think I was 2 minutes away from reloading there.

  3. Abe Witonsky Says:

    I haven’t read many poker books, and I just finished “The Biggest Game in Town,” which I enjoyed. As of now, my favorite poker book is Poker Nation.

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